London 2012: Olympic Broadcaster Televisa Faces Protests

Televisa Mexican TV Station Logo - P 2012

Televisa Mexican TV Station Logo - P 2012

Student led effort hopes to use the London games to draw global attention to the TV giant's role in recent presidential election.

MEXICO CITY -- So much for making a big splash in airing the long-awaited London Olympics, as Spanish-language media giant Televisa kicked off coverage of the games under heavy protest in Mexico.

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Thousands of activists turned out last week to blockade a Mexico City Televisa station on opening day of the Olympics in protest of the network's allegedly biased coverage of a recent presidential election. For 24 hours, Televisa employees were prohibited from entering the facility.

The protest movement accuses Televisa of manipulating public opinion after the network reportedly received millions in payments in exchange for favorable coverage of Enrique Pena Nieto, Mexico's president-elect.

So what's the relationship between the games and Mexico's presidential election? Absolutely none. Social organizations simply saw it as an opportune moment to denounce Televisa and tell the world that Mexico's election was rife with vote-buying.

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The demonstration traveled as far as England, albeit on a much smaller scale. An online video uploaded this week shows a small group of Mexican protesters harassing a Televisa crew as it was attempting to film outside a stadium in England.   

The student-led protest movement is demanding "democratization" of Mexico's powerful media companies. Televisa and rival broadcaster TV Azteca control about 95 percent of the broadcast TV market and both wield significant political influence. Emilio Azcarraga Milmo, father of Televisa chairman Emilio Azcarraga Jean, once called himself "a soldier of the PRI" (Mexico's former ruling party).

So far the protests have had a mostly social impact, as Televisa apparently has lost no major advertisers. Some groups have urged Mexicans to boycott Televisa's coverage, but the proposal has gained little traction -- and the notion gets even less support when the national soccer team is playing.

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Nevertheless, that hasn't stopped social networkers from monitoring every little move of the powers that be. After Mexicans Paola Espinosa and Alejandra Orozco won a silver medal on Tuesday for synchronized diving, president-elect Pena Nieto congratulated the two athletes via Twitter. Problem was he confused their last names and once again he became a target of criticism and ridicule.